The Sun‘s Kelvin MacKenzie is under fire for criticizing UK Channel 4 for having correspondent Fatima Manji wearing a hijab on air while talking about the Nice truck attack on Bastille Day. MacKenzie is a former Sun editor.’
UK press regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation has received more than 800 complaints so far, it told iMediaEthics this morning. ” These have been made predominantly under clause 1, 3 and 12 of the Editors’ Code of Practice https://www.ipso.co.uk/editors-code-of-practice/,” IPSO said.
We’ve also contacted the Sun for comment.
Channel 4 pointed iMediaEthics to its statement on its website, in which it called MacKenzie’s column “offensive, completely unacceptable and arguably tantamount to inciting religious and even racial hatred.” The UK’s National Union of Journalists slammed the column as well with its general secretary Michelle Stanistreet calling for diversity. Stanistreet said on the NUJ website:
“To suggest that a journalist is incapable of reporting on a terrorist outrage because of the colour of her skin, her religion or the clothes that she wears says all you need to know about the contemptible views of Kelvin MacKenzie. His feigned moral outrage is the language of racial hatred and bigotry, and sadly just the latest incoherent ramblings of a pundit who should have been put out to pasture a long time ago. Journalism in the UK needs more diversity, not less.”
MacKenzie’s column was headlined “Why did Channel 4 have a presenter in a hijab fronting coverage of Muslim terror in Nice?”
First MacKenzie criticized Channel 4’s Jon Snow for “a poor interview” of a Nice witness, but he went on to slam Channel 4 for having Fatima Manji, a Channel 4 reporter, on air to discuss the Nice attack.
“Was it appropriate for her to be on camera when there had been yet another shocking slaughter by a Muslim?” he asked. “Was it done to stick one in the eye of the ordinary viewer who looks at the hijab as a sign of the slavery of Muslim women by a male-dominated and clearly violent religion?”
Further, MacKenzie suggested Channel 4 wouldn’t have sent her to Nice because it would be “massively provocative” and called her a “pawn.” He commented:
“Would the C4 editor have used a Hindu to report on the carnage at the Golden Temple of Amritsar? Of course not.
“Would the station have used an Orthodox Jew to cover the Israeli-Palestine conflict? Of course not.”
In its statement on its website, Channel 4 said in full:
“The comments published in The Sun today by Mr MacKenzie are offensive, completely unacceptable, and arguably tantamount to inciting religious and even racial hatred.
“It is wrong to suggest that a qualified journalist should be barred from reporting on a particular story or present on a specific day because of their faith.
“Fatima Manji is an award-winning journalist. We are proud that she is part of our team and will receive, as ever, our full support in the wake of his comments.”
UPDATED: 7/19/2016 7:09 with comment from IPSO